Monday, May 15, 2017

U.S. reaches deal to export $2.6B worth of beef to China annually after 13 years of mad-cow lockout

The Trump administration has reached a trade deal with China that will allow U.S. imports of beef into China, 13 years after a case of mad-cow disease prompted the Chinese to block American beef. "At the same time, the U.S. is to resolve issues to allow Chinese cooked poultry to be exported to the U.S. The timeline for both: as soon as possible, but no later than July 16," Sara Wyant and Bill Tomson report for Agri-Pulse.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said China, the second largest beef importer in the world, "buys about $2.6 billion worth of beef every year," notes Agri-Pulse. "China didn’t import much beef when the country first banned U.S. product after the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered here in December, 2003. But that has changed significantly because of rapidly rising demand in the country."

Craig Uden, president of National
Cattlemen's Beef Association
Craig Uben, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in a statement: “After being locked out of the world's largest market for 13 years, we strongly welcome the announcement that an agreement has been made to restore U.S. beef exports to China. It’s impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for America’s cattle producers. We look forward to providing nearly 1.4 billion new customers in China with the same safe and delicious U.S. beef that we feed our families.”

Some critics expressed concern of several outbreaks of avian flu in China and questioned the countries ability "to enforce food-safety standards, given its poor track record," Maria Godoy reports for NPR. There is concern "that if raw Chinese poultry were processed in the U.S., it could potentially contaminate American plants or somehow spread to birds" in the U.S.

Also, China has been accused of selling rat meat as lamb, "oil recovered from drainage ditches in gutters being sold as cooking oil and baby formula contaminated with melamine that sickened hundreds of thousands of babies and killed six," Godoy writes. "In 2014, a Shanghai food-processing factory that supplied international restaurant brands including McDonald's and KFC was caught selling stale meat, repackaged with new expiration dates." In recent months U.S. Department of Agriculture have "traveled to China to train Chinese officials in meat safety."

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